I scream, you scream...

One of my best memories about summer is the time my mother tried to make cookies 'n' cream ice cream. Since she had never branched out from chocolate or vanilla before, this was pretty exciting. (Give me a break, I was 10.) Anyway, she had no idea how to go about it, so she improvised, mixing a sack of Oreos together with the usual ingredients for vanilla ice cream. My mother thought that the mixer on our homemade ice cream maker would only chop up the Oreos a little bit, resulting in a close approximation of the cookies 'n' cream that Blue Bell sells in grocery stores. What actually happened was that the mixer ground the cookies into a fine dust, resulting in, well, a mess. It still tasted good--all homemade ice cream tastes good--but it wasn't really cookies 'n' cream. It was a strange, brownish-colored ice cream that didn't exactly taste like chocolate or vanilla.

My memory of the ice cream debacle is so strong that it outweighs a real-life disaster that happened earlier on that same day. During a sub-amateur fireworks display at our annual 4th of July picnic, a bottle rocket was misdirected by a strong wind into a group of dead trees and dry grass. The grass immediately caught fire, and in the panic to put it out, we grabbed a batch of blankets from the garage and--mistakenly--an old American flag. After the fire was over, we finally noticed that we had burned the American flag. For some reason, someone started saying the Pledge of Allegiance (apparently, to prove to anyone watching that we weren't Communists) and gave the flag a proper burial. But when I think about that day, I don't think about seditious acts, I think about the homemade ice cream.

The participants in McKinney's Ice Cream Crank-Off probably know how to make homemade cookies 'n' cream without flubbing it. The contest, which has been held in historic downtown McKinney for the past three years, will gather challengers from around the area ready to prove that they have the best recipe. The contestants will compete in three categories: "Best Homemade Ice Cream," "Best Fruit," and "Best Other." It doesn't really matter who wins. In the soul-sapping Texas heat, any ice cream is a winner. This is about as American as it gets: eating ice cream in the town square on a summer afternoon. Throw in a slice of apple pie and a baseball game, and you'd have a Norman Rockwell painting. Just don't burn any flags.

--Zac Crain

The Ice Cream Crank-Off happens on Saturday, June 27, at Clyde's on the Square, located at 102 E. Louisiana in downtown McKinney. Contestants should arrive at 1 p.m. with their freezers and pre-mixed ingredients. Judging begins at 3 p.m. Admission is free. Call (972) 548-0406.


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